Making Time: Camp Springer
Swinging & splashing our way through the summer

It’s 5:20 am. Brandon’s “ok to wake” clock is set to 6:30. And yet I feel a tapping on my shoulder. I roll over, open my eyes, and he says (looking at me bright-eyed), “Daddy, let’s go outside to play!” I always wanted to hear those words from my child, but I guess I didn’t realize I would hear them so often.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s sunny and warm, hot and humid, frigid or even stormy, Brandon is always ready to play outside.

We had hoped Brandon would be running around at camp with friends all summer like we did as kids, exhausting himself so he would come home ready to sleep at night. But life and quarantine got in the way. Like so many families, we’ve had to adjust and come up with our own summer camp at home so Brandon feels like things are as normal as possible, and we could try to take advantage of the time together.

As the sun rises, Brandon wants to start the day playing outside in front of the house and wants little Adam to join us, because “he will like watching me ride my bike around Daddy.” We put on his helmet (because of course we need to “practice safety first, Daddy”), pull the bike out of the garage, and get all set to go for a ride. I’m ready to enjoy the quiet of the early morning with my boys and a trip around the block, but silly me. Any parent of a toddler can tell you each activity lasts for only a few minutes – no matter how long it takes to set up – before moving to the next. In addition to riding a bike in the driveway, we’ve also gone for a scooter ride, wanted a wagon ride (but saw the baseball and glove on the shelf and changed our minds), blown bubbles and played with our fish-shaped bubble machine, and it’s not even 9 am!

Finally, a breeze blows the bubbles to the backyard where my little helper believes he can do everything himself. In the backyard, first comes water time and as usual, Brandon knows exactly what he wants. “Daddy, I can unroll the hose, then I will turn on the water and you can put the nozzle onto the ‘airplane’ setting so I can fill my pool,” he says in a very decided manner. (“Airplane setting” is actually the jet setting on the spray nozzle for the hose, but the association makes perfect sense, no?) Brandon doesn’t just want to fill his kiddie pool, he also wants to fill his water table and then disconnect the nozzle to attach the hose to the splash pad. The back patio has become a toddler waterworld of fun, which buys us another 45 minutes or so.

After water time is done, we move over to his playset, which we thankfully ordered before the pandemic. Whether he is swinging, climbing or sliding, the playset also serves as his pirate ship, his castle, his fort and whatever else his imagination comes up with for the morning. When it’s a pirate ship, I get “Aye, aye captain on the boat!” or “Aye, aye matey!” He climbs and swings carefree, a huge contrast to the screaming and crying we used to hear when he was younger and too scared to even try the swings. Now Brandon asks to be pushed so that he can “go higher, Daddy.”

When we finish on the swings, I’m supposed to follow him up the ladder to the steering wheel and binoculars. At the top, we pause and look out. I ask him what he sees. He turns the wheel, and I ask him where we are going, to which he responds: “Wherever we want Daddy, maybe the moon!” But before that trip, he tells me it’s time to go down the slide. Maybe the playset company knew kids would ask their parents to follow them, because the slide holds up each time I head down.

Thankfully, we’ve made it to snack time, which means it’s not even 11 am. I suggest we go inside, sit down, cool off and get some water. It’s been another fun morning making memories. Even though I am so thankful to be able to spend so much time together, maybe the snack break is more for my benefit?

August 2020
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